The Ridge Point Panthers are in the midst of one of the best football seasons in the program’s brief history, which dates to 2011. Over the weekend, they added another notch to their 2020 belt by taking down a state-ranked giant to keep their season alive.
The Panthers continued their Class 6A Division I playoff run last Saturday by taking down Humble Atascocita, the 20th-ranked team in 6A by Dave Campbell’s Texas Football, by a score of 55-45 in a third-round game at the University of Houston’s TDECU Stadium.
Quarterback Bert Emanuel Jr. accounted for a career-high six touchdowns (three rushing, three passing) in a back-and-forth contest as Ridge Point posted its second-highest scoring game of the season and used a big third quarter to take a lead it would not relinquish.
The Panthers (8-2) will look to fry an even bigger fish as they face top-ranked North Shore (13-0) in a state quarterfinal scheduled for 2 p.m. Friday at Galena Park ISD Stadium. It is Ridge Point’s second trip to the state quarterfinals and first since moving to the 6A classification prior to the 2016 season.
Despite falling behind 14-0 in the first quarter against Atascocita, Ridge Point kept its composure. After Emanuel’s 19-yard touchdown scamper pulled them within a touchdown, the Panthers proceeded to take the ball away on back-to-back drives. Emanuel threw a 36-yard scoring strike to Micah Caesar following a muffed punt in the second quarter, while running back Keith Jackson ripped off a 76-yard touchdown run just minutes later following another fumble.
Atascocita responded with the half’s final 10 points to take a 24-21 lead into the break, but the Panthers again responded. Jackson and Emanuel each had touchdown runs in a 20-point, third quarter onslaught, while Emanuel hit John Paul Richardson for a 64-yard scoring toss to cap the scoring.
The Eagles pulled to within 41-38 early in the fourth quarter, but Emanuel’s 34-yard touchdown run late effectively sealed the Panthers’ win. Richardson also added a second touchdown catch in the final stanza.
Buffalos thunder to state quarterfinals
The Marshall Buffalos might as well have simulated their way to the state quarterfinals.
Marshall dominated in video game-like fashion last Saturday at Turner Stadium in Humble, defeating Nederland 49-0 to earn a trip to its fifth consecutive regional final. The Buffalos (12-0) advanced to take on the Crosby Cougars (10-3) at 1 p.m. Friday at Turner Stadium.
Quarterback Roland Harvey threw three touchdown passes against Nederland. Junior wide receiver Chris Marshall caught two of Harvey’s scoring tosses to bring his total to 14 touchdowns on the year, while Javion Matthews caught his sixth touchdown pass.
Aaron McGowen added his 12th rushing score, while leading rusher Rundrick Dudley added his 16th touchdown in the final quarter. Safety Adari Haulcy had two interceptions as the Buffalos pitched their eighth shutout of the season, scoring two defensive touchdowns in the process.
Hightower falls to state-ranked Manvel
In a rematch of an early season district matchup, Hightower was unable to keep its season alive last Thursday as it fell 31-7 against Manvel at Freedom Field in Alvin.
After a defensive struggle in the first quarter, the Mavericks – ranked 5th in Class 5A Division I – scored twice in both the second and third quarters to put the game away.
Senior quarterback Jakolby Longino punched in a fourth-quarter rushing touchdown in his final high school game for the Hurricanes’ only score as they finished the 2020 season with a 5-5 record.
The 2020 campaign was one of the most successful in recent history for the program, which won its first playoff game since 2013 and made its deepest playoff run since a state final appearance in 2011. The Hurricanes reached that point despite coping with the death of player Trey Thomas over the summer.
Head coach Joseph Sam was also quarantined for the Hurricanes’ first two postseason games due to COVID-19 contact tracing before returning to the sideline against Manvel.
“Proud of this football team and the new standard that has been set,” Sam tweeted Thursday after the loss.
Looking ahead to 2020, the Hurricanes will need to replace Longino, who accounted for more than 2,3000 total yards and 24 touchdowns this season. Also gone to graduation will be running back Charles Shelling (1,155 yards, six touchdowns). However, Hightower will likely return leading receiver Kaleb Johnson (563 yards) next season.